The congregants of Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation come from neighborhoods throughout Chicago and it’s suburbs. Led by Rabbi Capers C. Funnye, the temple, which celebrated it’s 100th anniversary in 2016, is the oldest temple in Chicago serving the Israelite community.
Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken EHC stands in Chicago’s southwest side neighborhood of Marquette Park. Once the site of a march with the Chicago Freedom Movement led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Marquette Park has had a history of racism against people of color, including Neo-Nazi rallies in the 1970s.
Chicago is a diverse but segregated city, with the majority of African-American residents living on the city’s south side. Historically, Chicago’s white Jewish population has lived on the north side. Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken EHC’s presence in Marquette Park is a symbol of resilience and faith in a neighborhood that once openly spurned black people.